A Case of Mistaken Identity – The Substituted Mangala-Sutra Bead of Papanaidupeta, Andhra Pradesh

Craft, Handloom, Art, Craftspersons/ Artisanal, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

A Case of Mistaken Identity – The Substituted Mangala-Sutra Bead of Papanaidupeta, Andhra Pradesh

Sethi, Ritu

The black bead Mangala-Sutra, the auspicious cord, worn by Hindu women across India is the instantly recognisable symbol of wedded status.Presented by the groom’s family to the bride at the wedding ceremony it’s wearing symbolises the unbreakable nuptial vow and the blessings for a long and content union. The tradition and symbolism of the Mangla-Sutra is as strong today as it has ever been for this talismanic shield remains a powerful assurance of marital bliss, an effective protection from the evil eye andonce donned it is never to be taken off through all the years of wedlock. And while its designs are becoming more contemporary and patterns vary depending on custom and region the one thing that remains the same in this propitious safeguard is that it is strung together with tiny glass black beads. Across the sub-continent black markings have been regarded as carrying potent talismanic protection and the use of black beads extends beyond the Mangla-Sutra  to cross beliefs, age and gender as a nazariya literally a deflection of the evil eye. Yet unbeknownst to the vast number of wearers the black beads that were once the tiniest handmade glass beads in the entire world have been replaced by plastic or machine made beads. A cursory online search has over 8 million results for Mangala-Sutrasand over 1 million for Nazariyas each search describing the uniqueness of design and the beauty of its embellishment - none mentioned the material or quality of the black seed-bead used. This act of subtle substitution has led to the death of an ancient globally renowned trad...
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